ULAN BATOR, Mongolia --
The Mongolian Armed Forces hosted 10 officers and enlisted members from the Southern California-based 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit at a weeklong staff exchange in the Northern Asian country's capital Aug. 27 to Sept. 4.
The Mongolian government, which is an active U.S. military ally in Iraq and Afghanistan, requested a Western staff to aid in its transition to a more Westernized force, said Maj. Bryan Wilson, MEU intelligence officer. The landlocked country's military consists of an army and an air force.
At the Defense University of Mongolia, the two nations shared experiences and best warrior practices and worked through the Marine Corps' planning process, which was taught by the Marine officers from Camp Pendleton, Calif.
"They have a very prideful and rich culture," said Capt. Justin D. Powell, a Merrillville, Ind., native, adding that the omnipresence of Chinggis Khaan, the 13th-century emperor long known in the West as Genghis Khan, is very apparent in Mongolia, from enormous monuments to the smallest sundries.
"Energy drinks are named after him -- everything from deodorants and bars of soap to shirts," said Powell. "I hope, after our visit, they came away with a better overall perspective of the Marine Corps and a desire to strengthen the ties between our two nations."
Powell said the knowledge shared with the Mongolians was well received and worth the 6,000-mile trip.
"When it was time for the practical application portion of the training, the Mongolians were ready and exceeded our expectations," said Wilson, who hails from Lexington, Ky. "As a transitioning force, they are on the right track."